Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Price We Pay

Photo by stwafanboys

See what I have to resort to without a camera of my own? I am forced to borrow photos from strangers on the Internet.


Sorry, that was just a side note, I'm done whining now, really.

How did you spend your Black Friday?

Were you out in the mobs trying to get the hottest deal at 3:30am or were you nice and warm in your big comfy bed fast asleep and enjoying the peace and quiet?

A few years ago my sister introduced me to the thrill of the hunt. I have gone every year since, with the exception of last year due to the fact that I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and I did not want to be in the middle of a mob and I was trying to get every last second of sleep I could before my beautiful bundle came.

So this year I was particularly excited to feel the rush of excitement as I joined the other crazy shoppers. This year I really got more and more disappointed as the day went on.

Thursday night after we came home from Thanksgiving dinner I sat down with the ads and a sharpie and planned out my plan of attack. I had about 6 items I wanted to get. Some from Wal-Mart and some from Sears. I like going to Wal-Mart (don't judge me, I know some people hate that place, but hey, they have good deals!). Our Wal-Mart is open 24 hours so you can go in anytime during the night. They have all the door buster items on big crates wrapped in black cellophane. At 5 on the dot they unwrap the goods and the mobs go nuts. There is no mad rush to get in the door, people are already there and have staked out what they want and are standing next to the items they want most.

I had my game plan all made out. Wal-mart at 3:30 then onto Sears as soon as I check out at 5am. I took my teenage nephew, Jordan, with me to optimize my effectiveness. He stood by the Air Hogs and Hot Wheels City and I stood next to the Thomas the Train set. We were stationed and ready to go at about 4:15, just waiting for 5am to arrive. A few minutes later Jordan called my cell phone and said there was a fight in electronics over some silly gizmo on sale. The cops were called and both shoppers were escorted out of the store.

No hot deals for them, better luck next year.

Somewhere around 4:30 the crowds could not contain themselves anymore. It was like the shot heard round the world that started the American Revolution. No one knew who started it, but soon everyone was tearing into the black plastic cellophane. It spread like wildfire. Within seconds the madness had begun. I grabbed what I wanted and turned to head for the check out line. As I turned I saw another fight break out. It was over a Jeep Power Wheels. There were two women, one on each side of the stack. They both grabbed for the same box at the same time. They both pulled at the box for a few seconds causing a see saw action. Then suddenly the larger of the two women pushed the box on the other woman causing her to fall to the ground. She then hit her as she stood to make off with her prize. The smaller woman was not giving up so easily. Although she was on the ground and crying she did not let go of the box. Inside I was glad she did not give up. She started talking to the mean lady telling her she had been ready to let it go just before she was so rudely pushed down. Through her tears she told the other lady how rude she had been and that her rudeness was the reason she was not letting go. The big woman proceeded to sit her huge hiney on the box with the top half hanging out her pants. She was just crude. I stood and watched, not knowing what to do to help. I finally reasoned that there was not anything I could do so I slowly made my way to the check out lanes. As I walked I imagined this large woman bringing this toy home and giving it to her kid on Christmas morning. I wondered how that mother would react if her child's friend wanted a turn to ride in the Jeep and her child pushed his friend because he did not want to share. I imagined her telling her son, "Don't push!" Would she feel like a hypocrite? Or would it even cross her mind? I wondered if she would look at it and feel bad about the price she had paid for that item. Not the sticker price of $88 but the price her virtue had paid to save a few dollars on a cool toy. In the long run that's all it is, a toy.

Is that silly toy that will be broken and out grown and abandoned in a few short years worth the price she paid for it? I think how you treat people, especially perfect strangers, speaks volumes about your character.

I love a deal as much as the next person, that's what gets me out of bed at insane hours of the morning once a year. But come on! Let's remember what it's really all about.

Jordan and I were home and back in our warm beds by 5:30am. We had gotten all the items on our lists and we had not hit or pushed or punched anyone in the process. I decided the stores need to have two lines for shoppers. One line for the crazy people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the deal and one for the just semi crazy people who love a deal but are not willing to get into a fight over it. That way all those people can push and fight with each other and the rest of us can get our deal and get on with our lives.

Later in the day I heard the news of the employee who had been trampled to death after opening the doors to crazy shoppers. Then I heard of others being trampled, including a pregnant woman. Is it worth it? Is getting a good deal worth a man's life? How could it have been different if just one person had stopped to help that poor man? Or if 20 had stopped to help?

I also feel bad for the shoppers. Many probably did not know a man was down. How would I have felt had that happened at my Wal-Mart on the day I was there shopping. How much guilt would I have knowing a man died because of my greed?

Will I continue to shop on Black Friday? Probably. But I have a new outlook on it. For me it's not about getting it all, it's about having a good time and saving a few buck in the process. Just remember, he who dies with the most toys, still dies!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Old Habits Die Hard

Have you ever thought about what creatures of habit we humans are?
Everyday our morning routine is the same.
It works to give the kids consistency.
They know exactly what is expected of them and they don't have to question it everyday.
They just know what comes next.
When, for some reason or another, our routine is thrown off I can feel the difference.
The kids fight more, Dubs is super grumpy and the whole day just seems off balance.
The holidays are no exception.
Every year for Thanksgiving it is just known that Laura brings the best stuffing in the world. Sharla and Mr Bird have to tell tooty jokes and laugh just like they were kids again. Mike brings the yummiest home made pumpkin pie, I have to do the green beans, Lisa has to bring the banana creme pie with home made whipped creme that she over whips and almost turns into butter and the turkey has to be huge and dry.
We all have to eat it with big smiles on our faces pretending it is the best turkey ever.
And it really is because we are all surrounded by our favorite people in the world, no matter if it nearly chokes us with every bite.
We are not thinking about the turkey.
We are too busy laughing and talking and keeping little fingers out of the candy dish.
So what happens if this routine is thrown off?
What happens if half of your most favorite people in the world are not there?
No stuffing, no jokes, no bone dry turkey.
OK, there was stuffing, but it was not Laura's stuffing.
I'm sure the stuffing was good, great even, but I would not know. I could not even take one bite of it.
Every time I saw the big bowl of seasoned brown goodness it seemed to mock me. It seemed to say, "Sorry, Laura is not here this year, I will have to do."
So I did what any rational person would do.
I avoided all stuffing all together.
What was I supposed to do when the usually dry turkey turned out to be succulent and moist?
Again, I did what any rational person would do. I took one decadent bite and tried really hard to swallow my tears because I knew my dear sweet mother in law will never be back with her dried out turkey, ever again.
I cried a little (OK, a lot) and thought of how if I'd have only known last year would have been her last Thanksgiving with us I'd have never left her side for a moment. How I would have remembered to bring the camera so I could take a million pictures of her to look at for the rest of the Thanksgivings I have left. How I'd have gathered my kids around her and we would have just all sat together in a little clump loving each other and smelling her. How I would have memorized what she was wearing and what she smelled like and what we talked about that day.
I'd rather eat a million of her dried out turkeys than live my whole life with deliciously basted birds without her to talk to and joke with.
I took some comfort in knowing that Laura and her stuffing and Sharla and her jokes would be back next year.
But spending Thanksgiving without my angel mother in law, who was more like a real mother to me than my own mother has ever been, left me off balance.
I have been trying really hard to thank Heavenly Father for the time I got to share with her and to not be bitter about Him taking her so soon.
She was His, after all.
I truly am grateful for the relationship we had, how many people can say they love their mother-in-law more than their own mother?
I am thankful for the life lessons she taught me.
I am thankful for what she taught me about being a good mom and wife.
In some ways I feel like that was not really Thanksgiving, no, not really.
Sure, it was a nice party, but surly, the real Thanksgiving will be back someday.
Then again, maybe it won't.
Then what?
How long does it take to make new holiday habits?
Part of me thinks it's going to be really hard to get used to moist turkey.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In Loving Memory of a Dear Friend

I have to whine for a minute.
But just for a minute and then I promise I am done...Maybe
My world as I knew it is over.
My blogosphere will never be the same.
I have had countless people tell me how much they love my posts and all the fun pictures of all the fun things we do.
Mr Bird hates it when I put all the pictures in a slide show because he likes them in the post and he likes reading the commentary about each one.
Well I hoped you enjoyed them too while you could.
Because they are all gone.
There will be no more.
I can't even bring myself to say what I did.
My stomach has a sick knot in it.
I will not sleep a wink tonight.
It started out a really good day. I did my workout, got the kids breakfast, we all got dressed and started school as usual. When school was over I made lunch and we left for a field trip to Salt Lake City and a tour of Mrs. Cavanaugh's Chocolate Factory.
My post is not about the candy factory today.
It was delightful. We had yummy samples and everyone was on a nice sugar high as we headed for home.
On the way home I thought, hey since we're here and don't have to be home for a while why don't we stop at the State Capital and have a look see there too.
Nothing like 2 tours in 1 day.
So we pulled up and parked. I threw baby cakes in the baby backpack and Dubs in the stroller and we were off.
As we come up the steps on the East side of the building there are these two huge Lions made of marble. I told the kids to stand next to them so I could get a picture.
I reached down into my purse to grab my trusty Cannon.
My nice, very expensive Cannon.
My sweet Cannon of love.
My Cannon that takes beautiful pictures of my babies.
My memory holder.
My photo documentor of my life and the lives of my very offspring.
My most trusted tool for my own small endeavor at family history.
I grabbed it and then the rest is a blur. I don't know what my hand caught on, but it caught.
I fumbled for the camera. Then slow motion took over.
I knew it was going to hit that marble slab what felt like a full minute before it did. I watched in vain as it hit and (*GASP*) bounced. It pains me to even write it. My heart just might break.
I did that.
It was not the three year old digging around in my purse getting into trouble.
It was not the six year old always begging to take a picture.
It was not the five year old being careless.
It was not even baby cakes.
It was all me.
So I picked it up as carefully as I could.
I tried in vain to turn it on.
The top is totally split open and I can see it's guts.
Oh, the horror!
And now it rattles. I don't think it's supposed to do that.
I took it home to Mr Bird and he handled it very well. But he did take the memory card out and put it in the garbage.
All hope is gone.
It's gone, as good as buried. I'm in mourning.
What a dark, dark day.
What is worse is that we have zero, count em, zero dollars for a new camera right now.
Say good by to birthday photos of Baby Cake's 1st (which is in 2 week, by the way) birthday and of Christmas 2008.
So the next time you see a photo of baby cakes he might be 12.
Or 60

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pure Joy

Bet you can't guess where we went on a field trip this week.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, BABY!
The kids loved it. When I say the kids I include myself in that statement! We went with some friends that we used to do preschool with. Beano stood next to his buddy Trey and watched the hot donuts get flipped so the other side can have a turn in the hot fattening oil.
Every time a set would get close to the flipper those two boys got so excited. They'd jump up and down and scream"Here it comes, here comes some more! Oh! It's going to get flipped!"
As soon as they were flipped a chorus of "AAW, YESSS!!!" could be heard through out the entire store. Then they'd do a little dance. There's nothing like a preschooler wriggling his little hiney out of pure joy. Oh, so cute!
They did this about 20 times, it never got old to them.

Doodle learned how many donuts fit on a tray. The lady would pick them up two at a time and place them on her long skinny tray. She counted by twos and found that 12 fit on each and every one. Then she learned that if you have 12 of something that's a dozen. But actually, "I already knew that, mom."
Apparently she does not need me anymore because everyone knows that 6 year olds already know everything.
Dubs loved watching the big bowls of colored frosting spinning around and seeing the lady dip the donuts in and then dip them in sprinkles.
Sprinkles make everything better.

Of course the best part was the free sample.
Beano said they tasted like sweet melty sand. He has quite the way of expressing himself.
I'd say he's right on.
They are so bad, but oh, so very good!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Saved the Best for Last

Before I begin I need to make a confession. I am a horrible mother.
I admit it.
I am not proud of it.
I try every day to be better, I really do.
But when things like this happen I just can't help myself.
Just don't judge me.
OK, I can start my story now.
While we were at Disneyland we took the kids on a ride called Honey I Shrunk the Audience.
This is one of those rides where you sit in a big auditorium and the chairs are on hydraulics and it is in 3D. It starts out really cool with things flying around the screen. Somewhere near the middle a cat face shows up on the screen and slowly morphs into a lion's head and a big set of claws seem to swoop out of the screen right at the audience. Our kids flipped out. They had never seen anything in 3D before and it was too much to take. Beano closed his eyes and was in the fetal position in his chair with his head between his legs crying for his life. Dubs was transfixed and could not stop watching even though he was screaming in sheer terror for the remainder of the show. Doodle was on daddy's lap clinging to him as if her life depended on it. Baby Cakes was freaked out by their reactions and was just as horrified. Soon that part was over and we got them all under control except Dubs, he never did stop crying. A little later in the show a huge snake appears in 3D and opens it's mouth wide and seems to strike at the audience.
That was it.
Our kids were done for.
All four of them were literally hysterical.
Their little lives were over, they thought they were goners.
They would not calm down until the show was over and we were out of the theatre.
It took a while for them to gain our trust again. They did not want to ride anymore rides because they were afraid it was going to be too scary.
Here is where the bad parenting comes in. As my poor babies are scared out of their gourdes for their very lives Mr Bird and I sat in our chairs laughing hysterically.
A good mother would take her frightened child out of that scary place. She would stroke their heads lovingly telling them in soft words that it would all be OK. She would apologize profusely for taking them there in the first place. She would buy them an ice cream cone to make every thing all better.
But not me, All I could do was laugh, hard and long and loud.
Our only worry was laughing so loud we might disturb the people near us.
Terrible, I know.
Just don't judge me.
I couldn't help myself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Road Trip, Part 3

You guessed it, we went to DISNEYLAND!!!
Brace yourself, there are a lot of pictures.
So how did we go from nowhere land to Disneyland, you ask?
It's a funny story, really. We really were planning on coming home and getting things done.
We had places to go, people to see and family parties to attend.
As we were driving north toward home, I noticed a sign that said
Welcome to California.

It was such a pretty sign, blue with California golden poppies on it. We knew our trip home would venture into Southern California a little way and then head North East and home.
Mr Bird turned to me and said, "How far are we from Anaheim?"

I pulled out the trusty atlas, measured the highways and guessed about 3 hours. We looked at each other and said, "Should we?"

No, we had too much going on. No, no, Disneyland is one of those things you plan for months and months and anticipate and dream about. No, you have to shop around online for weeks to find the best deal on a hotel and tickets. No, you have to spend a week minimum there to see it all and do it all.
No, we better just head home.

So we came to the junction where we could turn to head home or keep going on to Disneyland. We pulled over and sat there for a good 5 minutes trying to decide. Mr Bird did not have to be back to work until Monday morning.
We could drive there that day and have all day Friday to play and come home Saturday and be back for church on Sunday so I could teach my Relief Society lesson.

We decided we better not and headed down the road marked "Home".
About 2 miles down the road Mr Bird looks at me with that gleam in his eye.
"Should we?", He says
"Yes!", I say
He flipped that car around so fast I think I got whip lash.

And did we have the time of our lives!

We pulled out the laptop and found a hotel and got there late Thursday afternoon.

We rested and played in the room and found a pizza joint and a grocery store. We stocked up on snacks for Friday and sandwich stuff for lunch. We went to bed early and dreamed about Disneyland all night long.

Have you ever seen Disney land decorated for Christmas?

Beano was so excited to see Buzz. We had to go on the Buzz ride like 4 times. Here is Buzz stepping on a kid. Buzz had just come out and was walking very quickly to somewhere. Out of nowhere a kid jumps out and grabs onto his leg. Buzz just keeps on going, leaving his 'helper' to fix the problem. You can kind of see the poor kid on the ground behind him. Too funny.

The lines were not too long. The longest we waited was like 30 min, but most of them were less than 15 min.

Mary Poppins
She heard Beano cough and came over and had a conversation with him. She asked him if he was falling ill and if he needed some medicine for that cough. She is soooo pretty. I was so distracted by her beauty that I forgot to take a picture until she was half way down the walk.

Good entertainment.

Here is the rest of the fam on the Mater horn. They loved the abominable snow man.

I love Disneyland because I could even take Baby Cakes on a lot of the rides. We had such a good time.

When we saw Woodie Beano asks, "How does he keep his eyes open so long without blinking?"
Gotta love the innocence.

The tea cups were another favorite. Mr Bird could not spin as fast as he wanted to with Baby and I on board, so he kicked us out on this go round.

The carousel is always my favorite. I love the Disney carousel music. I love the pretty shiny horses. Baby Cakes loved it too! I think we rode it about 5 times.

"AAAAAAA, don't eat me."

More tea cups

Just look what we had for dinner. Gross, I hate hot dogs. I guess that's what I get when I send Mr Bird for dinner and tell him to just get me whatever he's having. You think I would have learned by now that he will always pick something with a hot dog in it.

The thing is bigger than his head.

Dubs ate the whole thing. None of the others could finish theirs. He just looks greasy top to bottom, in and out. I was really praying he would not puke that up sometime during the course of the night. Thankfully they all kept it down.

As we waited for the fireworks to start they all fell asleep on the ground. They were worn out!

They ended up cancelling the fireworks due to winds at higher elevations.

*sad, cry*

I really did want to cry. But I did not. We decided to just pack up and call it a night. When we got to our room we had the kids going potty. Mr Bird and I were helping Beano and Doodle and looked around to help Dubs go potty too. We could not find him anywhere. We panicked. Then we saw him passed out on the couch.

We had literally been in our room less than 2 minutes when we took this picture. What a fun, fun time. I would not change anything about our trip, it was perfect. The kids were so good and they all travel really well, even Baby Cakes did so good all the way home the next day. I, on the other hand had the biggest headache of my life. I guess I had a fun hangover!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Road Trip, Part 2

We had finally made it to Bouse, Arizona.
Land of the snow birds.
Bouse is one of those dinky towns along the high way in the middle of nowhere. It's one of those towns that you might miss if you blink. It's one of those towns that has no grocery store and one gas station, if you're lucky. One of those towns that has one, count em, one local diner, fast food is miles away. One of those towns you have to travel 40 miles away from to get groceries, so you better not forget anything on the list. One of those towns where you wonder how anyone can live so far from civilization and you wonder what people who live there actually do. What they do from day to day as well as what they do for a living, since there is no commerce.
Well, this week we found out.

I'll tell you what happens there.
Old people go there to get out of the snow and enjoy a mock summer all winter long.
Mr Bird's dad went for the first time last winter after his beloved wife of over 40 years passed away. His brothers go there for the winter with their spouses and their horses. Grandpa needed to get away so he flew south with his brothers. While he was there he met and fell in love with a wonderful lady who is now his new bride.
Grandpa and Grandma DD liked it so much they decided to get a place of their own so they too could fly the coup when the winter winds start blowing.
After being there for 5 days, I don't blame them.

Mr Bird and I have decided to take a family vacation south every November. Last year we went to Moab the second week in November and it was perfect. It makes Summer/Autumn feel like it lasts just a little longer. Plus there were not many tourists cuz most people have their kids in school. The weather was in the mid 70's every day while is was storming and bitter cold back home.

So what do people do in nowhere land, you ask?
They find the hippie caves where it is rumored that hippies would come and live in during the 70's.

They look at all the cool cacti they have only ever imagined and stare in awe at them and imagine they look like crusty coral from the bottom of the ocean.

They go on lots of rides in dune buggies and four wheelers and horses.
They cart their bikes all they way down there and ride the deserted desert roads and feel the warm air rush over their sun bathed November!

They find cool old abandoned mines in the middle of the desert, and they must explore them.

They take way too many pictures of those cacti.

They take turns taking pictures of each other.

They find bat caves and try not to step in the guano.
They try really hard not to get any cactus spines in their skin.

They take yet more pictures of these strange cacti and wonder how all those nubby branches can crowd around one cactus pole.

They enjoy the piece and quiet that is nowhere land.

This one enjoyed being rocked to sleep by the dune buggies.

And he loved the 4 wheeler with grandpa. He even fell asleep on that thing too.

We enjoyed having nowhere to be in the mornings and no responsibilities. We played in the dirt and made Grandpa tell us stories of his days on submarines when he was in the Navy.
We got to know Grandma DD a little better and enjoyed her yummy cooking.
When it was time to leave we were not ready for our vacation to be over.
We headed home on Thursday, hoping to be home for some family events over the week end.
Long story short, we missed all our family events and ended up not getting home until late Saturday night. On the way up home we decided to make a little detour.
To find out about this little detour check back tomorrow, I'll give you a hint.
This is the place where all your dreams come true!
How could we miss it?
To see what everyone else is chatting about this crisp Tuesday visit The Lazy Organizer.